I watched the pilot of the Hulu show, “Casual,” on my own. I liked the rougish male lead, even though he felt a common trope, with his rugged handsomeness, cockiness, and a savant-like perception of things that others didn’t perceive. I recognized the female lead from another show that my wife and I had enjoyed. I watched all the available episodes, even though the show seemed to start off slow.
Nights later, my wife and I were chilling out, and I suggested that we watch the show together. “I thought you said that you had watched it and thought it was Meh?”
“Yeah, but it was alright. I’d give it another go.” She was game and the pilot episode passed for muster. We watched a few more. We actually made it a couple episodes past the one I’m writing about now.
That bartender. The sexy-ass, beautiful bartender. You know the one I‘m talking about. She was infinitely more interesting than the “fitness freak” he met in the Pilot. The one he had a genuine and intelligent conversation with? That one.
And we’re watching. And my wife says, “Good for them. Casting a plus-sized love interest? Casting a plus-sized girl in a sexy role? Good for them. You don’t usually see that without them making some kind of joke out of her.”
Years ago, I read an article that spoke about the husband of an astronaut. He was a mathematician or some such. His wife was an astronaut. She was on the Columbia. The article wrote about him in the waiting room with the other spouses and children of the astronauts up there with her.
He got news that the Shuttle was over Texas. He did the calculations. He realized that if the shuttle was over Texas at the time they announced and it was scheduled to land in Florida at a definite time in the near future, the velocity was such that there wouldn’t be enough time to slow for landing. He realized.
Some five odd minutes before the rest of the room would, he realized that the shuttle was going to crash. That the astronauts within were imperiled. And there was nothing he could do. Tragedy.
I remembered that astronaut spouse when my wife lauded you. I couldn’t really say anything. I had seen the trailers for the show, and I knew that the punch-line was coming. I felt a pang of disappointment in watching that but decided to indulge the show anyway. When I was watching the show with my wife, though? She really is my better half.
He’s drinking. Fine. He meets the bartender. The plus-sized bartender. Fine. They hit it off. Fine. The camera cuts from the hands touching to the morning after. He’s getting dressed. “I’ve never done this before—slept with a girl for her personality.”
I wonder if you guys gave yourself a congratulatory pat on the back for casting her, for having his reaction to the experience be so positive, and even for what he said about her afterward. You guys? What the fuck. Seriously. What are you aiming at?
Who is your target market? I mean, who will laugh at those jokes? Certainly not the majority of us out there who do not conform to the contemporary beauty standards that the media offers up as the only thing worth admiring. Certainly not the rest of the somebodies out there who have someone near and dear to them who does not conform to such standards. Who, then?
Are you writing a show for the talk show shock jocks who feel like making jokes at others’ expense is a cool thing to do? Are you writing a show to appeal to bullies and to people who like picking on others? Or are you writing with the objective of affirming the worst parts of our culture? Seriously.
I know, I know—you can’t please everybody all the time, but have you asked yourself just who you are trying to please?
I resonate with what I imagine the pitch room might have been like. “Look, people out there seem to be taking a more casual approach to the way sex is nowadays. We see it in Dan Savage’s column, with its coining of the term monagamish. We see it in pop culture with the increasingly common appearance of polyamorous relations. While we don’t know that the culture is ready for a show extolling the value of polyamory, we wonder if maybe something about single people taking a casual approach to sex might not take…”
I get that. But if you’re meaning to advance the public’s attitudes, if your aim is to push the envelope, why do you stop at sexuality? Why do you continue to think it is okay to demean others?
I’m not the spouse in that waiting room. I can say something.
I expect more of the producers of media out there. Advertisers will recognize the value of a show that encourages the viewer to recognize that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. People will watch a show that defies the stereotypes. No more thin women who are vapid. No more plus-sized women who are punchlines.
We’re all ready to see that sex can be casual. We’re all ready to see that people can be beautiful regardless of size. We have already seen it. In our lives.
Now how about you aspire to something like art and start imitating our life?[Feature Image: A person with dark hair, who is wearing a leather jacket. They are pushing their index finger onto the camera screen. In the background is a dirt road, green grass and a single tree.]